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Last updated: April 04, 2021
The best water test kit offers a quick and easy way to know the quality of your water. These kits vary in the type of water they can test and the contaminants they can detect as well as their level of accuracy. They are used to check for bacteria, chlorine, lead and the pH, alkalinity, and hardness of water.
To ensure that your water is safe and free of impurities, we researched several kits and compared their individual features to bring you 6 of the top-rated brands in the market. We found the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit the most accurate and versatile because it can detect 25 contaminants and you can run the test at home or mail your water sample to the laboratory for a comprehensive analysis which takes approximately five business days.
We reviewed the most important features to consider before buying the best water kit. First, we looked at what it can test to ensure it is well-equipped to detect a wide variety of contaminants. Next, we evaluated the time it takes to do the test so you can choose the most convenient kit for your needs. We also examined the number of tests you can carry out with the kit to save you money on purchasing additional test strips. Our review features various sections that include a comparison table, in-depth reviews of each water test kit, and a comprehensive buying guide with more insight into the key features. There is also an FAQ segment and a summary of our top three picks.
Editor’s Choice: Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit
"It’s an all-inclusive test kit which comes with in-home test strips, a mail-in kit, and a TDS meter."
Premium Pick: Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit
"A mail-in drinking water test kit which will allow you to check your water for 50 contaminants."
Most Accurate: Health Metric Well Water Test Kit
"An easy-to-use water quality test which checks for bacteria, nitrate, manganese, and some other contaminants."
Best for Water Hardness: Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B
"An ideal, economical option if you need to watch your water hardness level constantly."
Best TDS Tester: Hone Forest Water Quality Tester
"An easy-to-use device to check Total Dissolved Solids, Electrical Conductivity, and water temperature all at the same time."
Best Value: Test Assured Drinking Water Test Kit
"Dedicate just 10 minutes to check the water you drink for the 10 most common contaminants level."
Top 6 Water Test Kits Review 2021
Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit – Editor’s Choice
What it tests: 25 contaminants
Test time: depends on the testing lab (about 5 business days)
Number of tests included: 9 in-home + mail-in test kit
Extra features: comes with a TDS meter; includes all the in-home testing strips from the Essential Water Lab Test Kit
Culligan is a trusted brand that has been offering water treatment solutions for more than 80 years. Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit comes in a package consisting of nine in-home testing strips from the Essential Water Lab Test Kit and a mail-in test kits to conduct tests for 25 contaminants. It also includes a meter for testing Total dissolved solids (TDS). With this kit, you can check your water source for lead, pesticide, bacteria, nitrate, nitrite, hardness, iron, pH, chlorine, and copper.
The laboratory tests are performed in Culligan’s NELAP-certified Analytical Laboratory that provides a detailed accurate analysis of the 200 ml water sample within five business days, with free shipping and prepaid mailer included.
You can visit this website www.waterlabtestkit.com for more information and videos on the contaminants.
Customers are pleased with this user-friendly home kit which generates results, including water hardness levels, within minutes, and the reusable TDS meter that comes with a battery. However, the test strips can only be used once. A number of users would also like the laboratory report to indicate the EPA limit for all the tested contaminants, not just some of them.
What we liked:
Tests 25 contaminants and TDS
User-friendly home kit
Laboratory test with free shipping
What could be better:
Tests can only be done once
Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit – Premium Pick
What it tests: 50 contaminants
Test time: depends on the testing lab (7-10 business days)
Number of tests included: 1 mail-in + 1 in-home
Extra features: includes a bonus Safe Home Do-It-Yourself Bacteria in Water Test
If we were to list out all the 50 contaminants that are tested by Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit, it would take up the rest of this review. These include 6 in-organics, 12 physical properties, and 32 toxic metals that are listed in detail at the back of the package. You will receive one in-home test to pre-screen results, including a bonus Safe Home DIY Bacteria test for Total Coliform and E. coli, and one mail-in to confirm results for a more analytical report. The package comes with two vials to put the mail-in samples for lab testing and one DIY vial.
The Company that has sold over three million tests also owns an EPA-certified laboratory for testing indoor and outdoor water sources. All you have to do is mail a sample of your water to the laboratory since the laboratory fees, and the cost of shipping your sample back is already covered in the initial purchase. The testing duration lasts from 7 to 10 business days after receipt, after which the results are emailed to you.
A certified lab report is sent directly to you with each test result and more information such as the MCL (Maximum Contamination Limits) for each contaminant tested and a color-coded ‘qualifier’ beside each test result indicating whether the tested contaminant is at a Safe Level, Questionable Level or Dangerous Level. However, some buyers found this comprehensive report complicated.
What we liked:
Tests 50 contaminants
Mail-in and In-home tests
Bonus DIY bacteria test
Free lab test and return shipping
Up to 10 days test time
What could be better:
It might be hard to figure out the lab report
Health Metric Well Water Test Kit – Most Accurate
What it tests: bacteria; nitrate and nitrite; manganese; hydrogen sulfide; alkalinity; hardness, pH
Test time: 2 minutes
Number of tests included: 9 (for different contaminants)
Extra features: comes with a comprehensive color-coded card to check the test results
Health Metric Well Water Test Kit checks for 8 contaminants in water that can cause illness, corrosion, limescale buildup, and odor. The 9-strip kit includes 1 test for coliform bacteria like E. coli, 2 for nitrate and nitrite, 2 for manganese, 2 for hydrogen sulfide and 2 tests to check alkalinity, pH and hardness of your water. Prior to delivery, the manufacturer emails a user guide with a color-coded card to compare with your results.
Apart from the bacteria test, the other results will take 2 to 5 minutes. Customers like the straightforward process and the accuracy of this kit, which produces results that align with lab results such as the carried out at the Michigan Department of Community Health Laboratory. They also like the dual strips that allow you to test your water twice instead of investing in an additional strip, and recommend it as a necessity for every household. This would be the best home well water test kit for anyone looking for an affordable and reliable DIY kit to check the safety of water from their wells, a test that should generally be performed at least once per year according to the manufacturer. A home kit saves you money on expensive lab tests and professional water testers.
This kit does not test lead, and a couple of buyers did not receive the test strips for hydrogen sulfide and nitrate nitrite.
What we liked:
Short test time
Checks 8 contaminants
Easy to read
9 tests for multiple uses
What could be better:
Does not test lead
Missing test strips
Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B – Best for Water Hardness
What it tests: water hardness; as CaCO3
Test time: several minutes
Number of tests included: 100
Extra features: utilizes drop count titration
Hard water as a result of calcium and magnesium deposits causes dry skin, mineral buildup in pipes and kettles, and a messy scum on your laundry.
To overcome this, Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B comes with a square glass bottle, a measuring tube, 0.1-gram measuring scoop and 2 reagents that use drop count titration to measure water hardness from 1 to 30 grain per gallon (gpg) as Calcium carbonate (CaCo3). It is the best-rated water hardness test kit by buyers who are impressed by its accuracy and ease of use.
The process is very simple, and it yields results in a few minutes. Measure out your water sample with the tube and put it in the bottle. Add one scoop of the purple reagent powder to the bottle and shake it to dissolve it. Add the clear reagent to this solution, drop by drop, and swirl as you count the number of drops it takes for the solution to turn into a blue color. One drop translates to harness level of one grain per gallon, with a higher number indicating high levels of hardness that would require a water softener. For instance, 15 drops is 15 gpg hardness. The color might turn pink at some point which means you have to continue adding the titrant until the solution turns blue.
This water test kit only tests for water hardness. It does not test iron and magnesium.
What we liked:
Effective for testing hardness
Simple to use
All testing tools included
Test takes minutes
What could be better:
Does not test iron and magnesium
Hone Forest Water Quality Tester – Best TDS Tester
What it tests: TDS; EC; temperature
Test time: several seconds
Accuracy: ± 2% F.S
Extra features: backlit LCD; comes with a protective carrying case
Most tests need to be carried out at room temperature for precise results, but Hone Forest Water Quality Tester offers a solution for fluctuating temperatures by incorporating a titanium alloy probe and Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) of 0-50℃ to ensure accuracy of ± 2% F.S.
The budget-friendly test kit also boasts of a large backlit LCD for easy viewing of results, auto-lock mechanism, and a 3-in-1 pen for measuring Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Electrical Conductivity (EC) and the temperature of your water.
Testing for TDS will provide insight into hydroponics to check nutrient count for your indoor plants, and let you know whether your Reverse Osmosis Deionization system is effective and when your filter is due for replacement.
When you stir the water after turning on the TDS meter, the readings are auto-locked on the LCD display within a few seconds, and then the meter turns off automatically after more than 2 minutes of inactivity to conserve battery. You can also lock the reading manually by pressing “HOLD”.
This water test kit is powered by a CR5 Lithium battery. It comes with a TDS color chart, a protective leather case with a belt clip that allows you to check the water from anywhere, a 3-year warranty, and a 90-day money back guarantee.
The manufacturer recommends rinsing the probe with distilled water after each use to maintain accuracy.
We like the factory-calibration that saves time and effort, the large readout for readings, and its consistency. Unfortunately, it does not measure pH.
What we liked:
Automatic Temperature Compensation
Tests TDS, EC and temperature
Includes storage case
90-day money back guarantee
What could be better:
Does not measure pH; limited functionality
Test Assured Drinking Water Test Kit – Best Value
What it tests: lead, bacteria, pesticide, iron, copper, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, nitrates and nitrites
Test time: 10 minutes
Number of tests included: 10 (for different contaminants)
Extra features: made in the USA; calibrated to the EPA standard
This is a 10-minute kit that works with various types of water sources to test for the most common types of impurities in water. Test Assured Drinking Water Test Kit is equipped to test for lead, bacteria, pesticide, iron, copper, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, nitrates, and nitrites. The USA-made product has been calibrated to meet the water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
You can test water from wells, springs, and taps from the comfort of your home and interpret the results with the help of the color charts and instruction manual provided with the kit. For the following tests you’ll get numbers back: the results will be in numerical form for iron, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, copper, alkalinity, pH, and hardness, and in binary positive or negative for pesticide, lead and bacteria.
Owners find it an inexpensive way to confirm that your water is safe, with clear instructions that are easy to follow and results generated within minutes, except for bacteria tests which take 48 hours. It is one of the best home well water test kits with several sales on Amazon.
A number of buyers received defective lead and pesticides tests and bacteria tests that registered false readings. Fortunately, the customer support is responsive and they offer free replacement or money-back guarantee for defective kits.
What we liked:
Detects 10 contaminants
10-minute test time
Approved by EPA
Versatile water sources
Convenient color chart
What could be better:
Incomplete and defective kits
Bacteria test takes time
Things to Consider
Close proximity to septic systems and the type of material used for plumbing, particularly lead, can expose you to poor water quality that could cause illnesses, corrosion, and stained clothes, among other issues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recommends water tests before buying a home water treatment unit so you can know what to remove beforehand. With this buying guide, you will be able to learn more about the best home drinking water test kits and the most important features to consider before making your decision.
Why test your drinking water?
The best drinking water test kits detect contaminants in water that can cause neurological, gastrointestinal and reproductive The Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit, for example, tests for 50 contaminants that include 6 In-Organics, 12 Physical Properties, and 32 Toxic Metals. It also comes with a bonus Safe Home DIY Bacteria test for Total Coliform and E. coli.
Testing your water quality will help you to identify the specific contaminants in your water so you can invest in a water treatment system that is equipped to get rid of those contaminants.
By using models such as the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit that include mail-in tests for water samples which are sent to laboratories for more advanced and accurate tests, you will receive a comprehensive report that will precisely establish the presence and exact amount of the contaminants in your water and compare them to the Federal Maximum Contamination Limits set by EPA.
Hard water from calcium and magnesium deposits causes dry skin, scum on laundry, and mineral buildup that results in corrosion and blockage of boilers and piping systems. To know whether you might need a water softener, you should consider the best water hardness test kits like the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B that uses a simple drop count titration process to test water hardness from 1 to 30 grain per gallon (gpg) as Calcium carbonate (CaCo3). You can perform about 100 tests with this model. This will help you fix any issues before they can affect your system and force you to spend more money.
If you enjoy indoor gardening, the Hone Forest Water Quality Tester would be handy for testing Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Electrical Conductivity (EC), and the temperature of your water. This enables you to confirm the nutrient count for your plants and the effectiveness of your filter and reverse osmosis deionization system.
Features to consider while choosing a water test kit
The following are the key features that will guide you when choosing the best water hardness or lead test kit that will protect your health as well as your boilers and pipes from corrosion and blockage.
What it is designed to test
Water test kits differ in the type of contaminants they are able to detect and the compatible water sources. For a comprehensive range that will keep your water safe, consider a model that can test for several impurities and bacteria, and work with various types of indoor and outdoor water sources. With the exception of the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B that only tests water hardness and the Hone Forest Water Quality Tester that measures the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Electrical Conductivity (EC) and the temperature of your water, all the other products we have recommended provide kits with enough strips to conduct one full test. The Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit and the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit even include additional mail-in tests that are sent to their laboratories for a detailed analysis.
How long it takes to conduct the test
The time it will take to carry out the test will depend on the type of water test kit and the type of contaminant they are detecting. For instance, bacteria such as Total coliform and E. coli require to be incubated for 48 hours at 35 ± 0.5ºC or 37 ± 0.5ºC according to the Water Quality Monitoring guide by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization. The 48-hour duration is also recommended by manufacturers of test water kits to ensure integrity of results. Otherwise, the Health Metric Well Water Test Kit produces test results for bacteria, nitrate, and nitrite, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, alkalinity, hardness, and pH in 2 minutes, and the Test Assured Drinking Water Test Kit takes 10 minutes to generate results when testing lead, bacteria, pesticide, iron, copper, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, nitrates, and nitrites.
Mail-in results take the most time, up to a week, due to the advanced laboratory tests and the detailed report that is emailed to you afterwards. You also have to factor in the shipping time.
After their laboratories have received your sample, the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit and the Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit perform the tests in approximately 5 business days and 7 to 10 business days respectively.
Number of tests included in the package
Water test kits use different types of methods to detect contaminants. They come in form of test strips, color tests that use titration like the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B that has been rated as the best water hardness test kit, digital meters like the one that comes with the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit for testing Total dissolved solids (TDS), and mail-in tests that are conducted in laboratories such as the one offered by the Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit for a more detailed and accurate analysis.
Before buying the best lead water test kit, you need to confirm that the test is among those included in the kit. In this case, the Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit which tests 6 in-organics, 12 physical properties, and 32 toxic metals contaminants, including lead, would be a better choice rather than the Hone Forest Water Quality Tester which tests Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Electrical Conductivity (EC) and the temperature of your water. For water hardness, bacteria and other contaminants, you can look at the Health Metric Well Water Test Kit that also tests nitrate and nitrite, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, pH, and alkalinity.
Another factor to consider is the number of tests you can perform with one kit. Some offer single-use strips whereas the Health Metric Well Water Test Kit comes with a 9-strip kit that includes one test for coliform bacteria like E. coli, two for nitrate and nitrite, two for manganese, two for hydrogen sulfide and two tests to check alkalinity, pH and hardness of your water. This allows you to test water from various sources such as wells and taps. Another multiple-use kit is Hach Total Hardness Test Kit which includes a square glass bottle, a measuring tube, 0.1-gram measuring scoop and two reagents that use drop count titration to measure water hardness from 1 to 30 grain per gallon (gpg) as Calcium carbonate (CaCo3), and allows you to perform up to 100 tests.
If it needs to be mailed
The best drinking water test kits that offer mail-in tests also come with DIY home tests that you can use to detect the contaminants in your water in a few minutes, although the bacteria test usually takes 48 hours. For mail-in tests, you take a sample of your water and send it to the specified laboratories for more accurate tests that take less than a week to receive a detailed lab report of the analysis. Along with the nine in-home testing strips, the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit also provides a water bottle where you put 200 ml water sample and prepaid mailer with free shipping to send the sample to Culligan’s NELAP-Certified Analytical Laboratory for further tests. It takes approximately 5 business days to receive the lab report. Another product with a mail-in option is the Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit which comes with two vials for the water sample to be sent to their EPA-certified laboratory. Both the laboratory fees and the cost of shipping your sample are covered in the initial purchase, and the detailed lab report is emailed to you within 7 to 10 business days.
While some home water test kits will only let you know whether your water has certain contaminants by giving you a positive or negative result, a professional report from a laboratory offers details on the exact levels of impurities in your water, and the EPA recommended limit for those contaminants.
To avoid compromising your health, you will need an effective product that can test your water for contaminants and produce accurate results. A defective product can produce false findings or fail to detect these impurities, so it is important to know that such unforeseen circumstances are covered by a long warranty. Most of the products we have featured in this review of the best home drinking water test kits come with appealing warranties with enticing money-back guarantee offers for unsatisfied customers. For instance, the Hone Forest Water Quality Tester includes a 3-year warranty and a 90-day money back guarantee, and the Test Assured Drinking Water Test Kit issues no-questions-asked refunds if you are unhappy with their product.
Easy-to-follow instructions: One constant quality that you will find in the best home well water test kits is their user-friendliness and simple instructions that are easy to follow to get accurate test results. Good examples include the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B that provides clear instructions on how to mix the water sample and reagents and how to interpret the results, and the Hone Forest Water Quality Tester that auto-locks the TDS meter reading on the large LCD display for convenient readout, and then turns off automatically after more than 2 minutes of inactivity to conserve battery.
Downloadable booklets: The best home water test kits offer additional online resources that can be downloaded for more information, or in case you misplace the printed instructional guide provided with the package. When you purchase the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit, you can visit www.waterlabtestkit.com, which has informational videos and Culligan’s Water Quality Report Guide that will help you learn more about contaminants and your water test results.
The best home water test kits provide accurate results for in-home water tests as long as you follow the instructions. You can confirm these results by mailing a sample of your water to a laboratory such as the one offered with the Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit and the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit for a comprehensive analysis.
Some kits offer mail-in water tests for their customers who would like to confirm their tests. These tests are typically included with the home kits for DIY tests, and mailed to designated laboratories that are specified by the manufacturer.
The advantage of investing in the best home drinking water test kits is their ability to test both indoor and outdoor water sources for contaminants. These include water from wells, springs, taps, swimming pools, and aquariums.
Our Editor’s Choice for the best home drinking water test kit is the Culligan Comprehensive Water Lab Test Kit, which is manufactured by a trusted brand that has been offering water treatment solutions for more than 80 years. It includes in-home and mail-in tests for 25 contaminants and a reusable TDS meter.
The Safe Home Premium Drinking Water Test Kit is an advanced product that tests an impressive range of 50 contaminants consisting of 6 in-organics, 12 physical properties, and 32 toxic metals, making it the best lead water test kit. You will also receive a bonus DIY Bacteria test for Total Coliform and E. coli and mail-in tests with two vials for lab test samples that take you 7 to 10 business days to get the test results.